Power struggle racks Nuclear Regulatory Commission

photo The Unit 1 turbines sit idle at the Bellefonte nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Ala.

As TVA scrambles to repair recent safety concerns, Nuclear Regulatory Commission records show that Bellefonte's construction license didn't have full NRC support when the federal regulator's commission members approved the 37-year-old lapsed license several months ago.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko, then just one of the commissioners, wrote: "There is an inherent danger in ignoring this obvious fact. Licenses exist for a purpose. We use them to fulfill our statutory mandate of protecting the public health and safety."

In the past week, Jaczko has been on the ropes of a political battle brewing over his management of the nation's nuclear regulator: He maintains that a complacent industry and agency need to move more quickly to ensure safety at the nation's aging nuclear plants.